Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

April 30, 1960

Guest post by Samuel Kramer, undergraduate student at Iowa State University.

On April 30, 1960, the Chicago Defender published a United Press International story about a quiet protest that took place in Greensboro, North Carolina (click to view PDF). All of the arrested individuals were college students of Bennett and North Carolina A&T colleges, all of whom were African Americans with the exception of one student. It had been the first arrest of sit-down protesters since the February 1 arrest of the Greensboro Four. The arrest of the students was during a time when peaceful protesting was a big factor in the equal rights movement. Only a couple of months preceding the arrests, the Nashville sit-in was gaining national attention. The scale and the support of many equal rights leaders helped make the nation aware of the incidents. In the same paper, there was another article, “Segregation on Death Bed,” which highlighted the events of the Nashville sit-ins (click to view PDF). “As an estimated crowd of 3,000 listened, he termed the Nashville sit-down demonstrations ‘the best-organized and most dedicated over the South-land today.’” The paper was quoting Dr. Martin Luther King during the sit-downs in Nashville. The article, and those written around the same time, showcased the actions of the people who wished to make a change in the world they lived in. The actions of an individual or person affect others. This movement became sort of a movement within a movement. The equal rights movement was organized in a peaceful fashion to stop any unnecessary violence. It is the small things that tend to be lacking from the history that one learns in school or in general. This was the first time I have heard of these events, not because they were overshadowed by larger events, but because not enough time and attention were allotted for them. In schools and teachings, you are taught the big picture and the major events, but that does not paint the whole picture. It is stories like these that prove the care and dedication of the people in the movement and their willingness to stand up for what was right, or in this case sit down. Many of these sit-ins took place in segregated shopping centers or food service establishments, separating those who are “less desirable” than others. Other examples would include the Filipinos and Japanese on the West Coast after the events of World War II. As with the African Americans, the Filipinos and the Japanese Americans worked where they could and worked for equality in some form or another. Honestly, reading this article sent me into a whirlwind of article of events I have never heard of and of the people who stood up for what they believed in. It is stories like these that inspire people and can help bridge gaps of social tensions. I admire the individuals and this movement that ultimately led to more equality. Although our society is still not perfect, this was a large step for humanity as a whole.

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